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(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-12-19 08:25
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Chinese, US youth join hands to fight climate change

We have learned quite a few things after a week as student observers at the United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen.

Our class of 13 - four students from China, one each from India and Myanmar, and seven from the United States - walked around the Bella Center and took note of the positions articulated by different countries.

Although the negotiations were complex one thing was clear. Irrespective of the outcome at Copenhagen, our generation of Chinese and American youth has the opportunity to work together to solve the issue of climate change.

The youth in both countries can cooperate by raising awareness about global warming. In fact, many students have already taken the lead.

On Oct 24, 181 countries cumulatively held 5,200 events to highlight the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 350 parts per million.

Many of those events were led by youth, and quite a few of those took place in China and the United States.

Dedicated students in both countries are learning of the dangers of climate change and the need for new technologies to combat it.

One classmate, Liu Xinxin, attended the International Youth Summit on Energy and Climate Change at Tsinghua University in Beijing last July.

Dedicated students at DePauw University in the US, where we study, regularly learn about the impact of climate change through lectures and discussion.

We helped found the DePauw Environmental Policy Project, the program that brought us to Copenhagen. The youth in both nations can cooperate by facilitating understanding between China and the US. There is often suspicion between our nations. Both wonder - 'Is the other sincere in its promises?'

Here in Copenhagen, a "China-US Youth" dinner brought together 50 Chinese and an equal number of American students.

We ate Gong Bao Chicken, Zuo Jiao Beef, and other delicious dishes. During the meal, we discussed what we had learnt about global warming, as well as the contentious issues debated at the climate summit.

By the end of the evening, we had become friends and better understood the reasons for our countries' disagreements regarding a new climate change treaty.

We were no longer mistrustful of the others' intentions. We hope that more American and Chinese students would have opportunities to learn from each other. Maybe, we will play a small part in encouraging cooperation between our countries.

We are doing this because we are the leaders of tomorrow. Climate change is an issue that will not disappear anytime soon, and we must try to mitigate its impact and adapt.

We are well aware of the disagreement between our two nations on the climate treaty.

However, no matter how significant the issues, we must find an agreement. Whether you live in Beijing or New York City, in Hebei province or Indiana, all will suffer from the effect of climate change.

Increased flooding, droughts, forest fires, and heat waves do not discriminate based on nationality. The rising sea levels will not care whether we prefer the Chinese dragon or the American eagle.

Regardless of what happens in Copenhagen, we must, and we will, work together to solve climate change.

Pucong Han (Beijing) and Anthony Baratta (Ohio)

DePauw University students

Via email

(China Daily 12/19/2009 page4)